Safety Team Offers Workshops, Reports 2016 Accident Numbers

By Staff Writer | March 6, 2017
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Airbus Super Puma

An Airbus Helicopters H225 Super Puma crashed off the coast of Norway April 2016. Photo courtesy of Airbus Helicopters

Members of the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team will be hosting a series of workshops March 7 to 8, a collection of education sessions that joint industry-government group says is the largest number it has offered at the annual trade show.

The show convenes as the team has posted its latest tally of helicopter accidents in the U.S. That tally shows a 12.4% percent decrease in annual accidents, but no drop in the number of fatal accidents and a slight increase in helicopter accident fatalities.


The planned workshop topics range from autorotations and inadvertent encounters with obscured weather to personal protection equipment and techniques for recovering from vortex ring state.

The U.S. Helicopter Safety Team workshops are part of the Helicopter Foundation International’s Rotorcraft Safety Challenge. That challenge presents a certificate of achievement to each individual that collects six tokens that are presented at the conclusion of each event.

All the workshops are scheduled to take place in the “C” meeting rooms of Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center (unless otherwise noted). Information about the sessions and their locations, as well as the Rotorcraft Safety Challenge, can be found at the HAI Safety Committee (booth 7703).

Using a data-driven approach to risk management, the U.S. safety team conducts safety analysis of past helicopter accidents. Its goal is to better understand the causes of accidents so it can develop best practices for preventing their recurrence and improving overall safety in the helicopter industry. The team currently is focusing on means of reducing accidents involving loss of control, unintended flight into instrument meteorological conditions and low-altitude operations.

In its latest tally, of U.S. helicopter accidents in 2016, the team said the total accident rate and fatal helicopter accident rate fell for the third consecutive year, from 121 in 2015 to 106 last year. That is based on its analysis of FAA data.

In raw numbers, there were 106 U.S. helicopter accidents in 2016, the team said, noting that that marked a 12.4% decrease from 2015 and a 27.4% decrease compared to 2013, when the U.S. team was established.

Last year, 29 people were reported to have died in U.S. helicopter accidents, the team said. In 2015, 28 died.

The team noted the overall accident rate fell to 3.19 accidents per 100,000 flight hours compared with 3.67 in 2015, and the fatal accident rate fell slightly to 0.51 accidents per 100,000 flight hours compared with 0.52 in 2015. The fatal rate is down from 0.65 in 2014 and 1.02 in 2013, it added.

“The FAA and the helicopter industry have worked together to educate the civil helicopter community about safe practices, to drive these improved results,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

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